Start-ups exist because confident, determined individuals see a different way of doing things. It’s this difference that defines the organization through its culture and offerings. As start-ups grow there will be an inevitable need to bring in brighter minds than the status quo, in an effort to push the innovation onward and up.
However, alluring the brightest possible minds can be a daunting task, but the potential candidates don’t need to know. In business school we are told time and time again how the interview is time for the interviewee to ask just as many questions as the interviewer. So, as the interviewer, it’s important to be ready for these questions. If none are asked, then the decision is easy — not the right person. When they are, the real interview can begin. In discussions, don’t pay attention to the candidate’s alternatives; they are coming to be wooed by you and your organization.
Avoid giving their alternatives free press. The candidate will know more about their alternative organizations than you do. If they are worth hiring, that particular research has been done, and they will see weakness in you making a point to belittle their options. They are giving you the time of day to hear about your company, your products, and your story. Even if they pose the question of why should I work for you as opposed to the other guys? Keep the focus on you, and how you believe they should work for you. In business, such as in life, there will always be another who can offer more. So comparing yourself to all the others will surely leave you beat. Be proud of what you have accomplished and demand potential candidates share in your passion and resilience.
Let them walk away; see how they perform in uncertainty. If the interview had too much focus on the options they’re toiling over, then they walk away knowing the upper-hand is theirs. Keep the conversations on working for you and the fit you’re looking for within your company. Then they’ll know you’re determined to find the best, brightest person – the upper hand is now yours. They’re now uncertain if you’ll be calling, if they are determined to work in your culture, they will reach back out. There will be follow-up questions and further discussions on what the role at hand consists of. Make sure they are as enthusiastically committed to the difference as you are. Hiring someone should be for the long-term success of the individual and the organization. If you don’t do your due diligence in the beginning and see how their tenacity and drive plays out, then you will have set you, them, and the organization up for a failed and often miserable experience. Be patient, be proud, and be primarily focused.